The Kennewick Irrigation District has approved a reorganization it says puts employees to better use while pocketing $181,000 in savings.
The district also may spend $25,000 to upgrade an automatic water flow control system that hasn't worked properly since it was installed last year.
District Manager Chuck Freeman proposed the staff changes at Tuesday's board meeting to help make the agency more efficient.
"KID is decreasing positions and doing what we need to do," he said. He noted that the district has 10 fewer employees than a year ago, and three cuts came since he took over in November.
The reshuffling includes four revised job descriptions and three new positions. Freeman said the big change is eliminating the operations manager and supervisor jobs and replacing them with lower paid assistant manager positions. That saves about $120,000 a year, he said.
New job descriptions for a construction inspector, computer assisted drawing technician, purchase coordinator, accounting assistant and assistant planner will cost about $11,000 more, cutting a projected total savings to about $109,000, Freeman said.
Additional savings of about $72,000 will come by contracting out KID's information technology needs instead of having the work done by two full-time employees.
"We're becoming very lean in our operation. This places the district where we need to be," Freeman said.
The board voted 4-0 to adopt the plan, with board member Patrick McGuire not present.
Also Tuesday, John Humphreys of Sutron Corp, offered to help solve a persistent problem with automatic control of flows at 12 monitoring stations that are intended to balance delivery of canal water throughout the district.
Ed Everaert, manager of engineering and operations, invited Humphreys to talk about ways to make KID's system function properly.
"Basically we have a system that isn't working," Freeman said.
Humphreys offered to set up a free demonstration.
If KID wants to buy a 12-station system, it would cost about $25,000, he said.
Once KID has an automated flow control system working, it could save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in staff time not required for manually setting water levels, with additional savings in reduction of spilled water from the canal system, he said.
Board chairman who asked Humphreys to work up a better cost estimate to bring back to the July 20 board meeting.
w John Trumbo: 582-1529; email@example.com